Learning to Love Every Age and Stage

Learning to Love Every Age and Stage | RaisingArrows.netWe have a wide range of ages in our household – all the way from little bitty to nearly grown.  It’s a lot to keep up with, but I enjoy it so much!  However, I remember a time when this wasn’t the case.  I remember when I didn’t relish every moment because I didn’t know I was missing anything.  And even if I had known, I probably wouldn’t have known how to change it.

Then I reconnected with a childhood friend who was very vocal about loving her children.  She loved them “out loud.”  She told me she would memorize their little faces as they nursed because she didn’t want to miss a moment.  And I was in awe.

It had never occurred to me to enjoy my children right where they were.  I was always too busy trying to get them to the next stage.

Learning to Love Every Age & Every Stage | RaisingArrows.net

So many mamas are rushing through their children’s childhoods. Some are excited for the future. Some are weary of the present.  Some know they should slow down.  Some never give it a thought and just keep plodding away.  Most are a mixture of all of these, and far too many of us are “missing the moments.”

Enjoy Every Age and Stage | RaisingArrows.net

Baby Creed is 14 months old.  Every day I wake up and stare at him and realize he is growing up before my eyes, and if I don’t enjoy the very age he is right now, I will never have that chance again.

I am thankful the Lord brought someone {back} into my life who truly loved her children and showed me by example how to make memories with my children before I found myself with only memories to hold on to.

You may never know the pain and emptiness of losing a child, but if you do not grab hold of the age and stage your children are right this very minute, there will come a day when they will be gone in the figurative sense, and you will wonder why you didn’t savor their growing up years.

Learning to Love Every Age & Stage | RaisingArrows.net

There isn’t some magical formula to loving your children right where they are.  It is more a careful and purposeful slowing down to gain perspective.  It is a hug, a kiss, a smile, a listening ear.  It is taking photos and videos – even if they are on a cell phone.  It is keeping a journal with them or sharing a Special Night.  It is being a student of your child, learning more about them every day.  It is thinking before you speak, and loving more than you lecture.  It is speaking out loud just how blessed you are.  It is looking for the good in every age and stage, rather than dwelling on the bad.

It is realizing they do grow up, faster than you would ever imagine.

Large Family Homeschooling eBook | by Amy Roberts of RaisingArrows.net

Homeschool Convention Time! {Welcome Home Wednesday}

Teach Them Diligently Homeschool Convention 2014

Tomorrow morning, I hop a plane to Nashville for our first homeschool convention of the season! I am so excited! I always get giddy when it comes to homeschool conferences because it means refreshment and refocusing for me.  From the moment I attended my first homeschool convention back in 2002, I’ve been hooked!
{affiliate links included}

Over the years, Ty and I have attended many different conventions.  They each have their own flavor.  Teach Them Diligently has quickly become a favorite of mine because of its focus on families.  It’s not just about academics, and as a veteran homeschool mom, I appreciate that.  I need encouragement that goes far beyond the rigors of textbooks and spelling lessons.  This Nashville weekend is going to be a breath of fresh air!

I am also presenting 3 sessions of my own in Nashville!

Creating a Peaceful Home
Your Perfect Schedule
and
Large Family Homeschooling – based on my soon-to-be released ebook by the same name!

Large Family Homeschooling eBook releases April 1! | RaisingArrows.net

I will be offering these same sessions in Dallas later in the summer.  If you are attending either conference, be sure to look me up!  I love meeting readers!

I also want to give you a FREE gift to help you plan and prepare for a homeschool conference.  They can be overwhelming and a bit like drinking from a fire hydrant.  I’ve compiled some posts I’ve written on attending homeschool conventions into a small ebook you can download by clicking on the icon below:

FREE Homeschool Convention Survival Guide | RaisingArrows.net

I also want to note that in last week’s link up, Amy from Plain and not so plain offered a FREE Kindergarten & First Grade Curriculum, and Jennifer from A Heart for the Home gave some wonderful tips for How to Handle Homeschool Burnout.

The #1 clicked post from last week was from MamaGab, and yes, it was about babies – or rather No More Babies.  I ended up pinning this post to my Grieving Mother Pinterest Board because while Gabby’s fears did not stem from losing a child, her words echoed many of the same words in my own heart.  These are fears any mother who has had a traumatic experience must some day face.  A worthwhile read.

Now, it’s your turn! Link up as many as 3 posts from your blog and enjoy the other links left here!  {If reading via email, please click over to see the links and leave yours!}

Welcome Home Wednesdays
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Christmas Without Emmy

Emily Christmas DayEmily’s first and only Christmas was 6 years ago.

Not a Christmas goes by that we don’t think of her, celebrate and grieve at the same time.  Her stocking is still hung with the others, in between her two brothers…a gap only we see.  Her ornaments still bedeck the tree, some celebrating her life, some commemorating her death.

From the photo above, taken on Christmas Day 2007, you can still see how swollen little Emily is from the IV fluids.  The hospital tag is still on the carseat because we had only brought her home the night before.  My sister had taken my children shopping for gifts and my sweet Megan, only 7 at the time, had chosen the bear.  The quilt was given to us by the Pediatric nurse who cared for Emmy during all her hospital stays; the nurse who 7 weeks later came to a funeral none of us were ready for.  The bibs are a typical 1st Christmas present in our home; the same present little Creed is receiving this year for his 1st Christmas.  Emmy, in her usual contentedness, sucks her thumb.  There have been no thumb-suckers since..a fact which saddens me.  My children ask for another sister for Christmas.  every. year.  The Lord has not seen fit to grant their wish…nor mine.  My little boys hugs my leg and kiss my cheek and I tell myself it doesn’t matter because I would not trade any of them.

but Lord…perhaps…some day?

Christmas is a celebration of birth, but as a grieving mother, I see the death that is coming…and the HOPE that will follow.  All my longings hinge on a promise, the promise that starts here.

So, while I’ve talked specifics of what holidays are like without a loved one, without a promise and the hope of that promise being fulfilled, we are missing the Truth of our circumstances.  Do I hurt?  Yes.  Do I miss her with all my being?  Yes.  Do I write these words through tears?  Yes.  But next week I will celebrate the Promise.  I will cling to the Hope.  I will walk in Truth.

And some day…yes, some day…

 

Scripture Lullabies ~ peaceful music for the entire family

Scriptures Lullabies ~ the peaceful music I was looking for {review & giveaway} | RaisingArrows.net

{Disclosure:  I knew from the moment I listened to the preview tracks of “Hidden in My Heart” Volume I & II that I wanted to review and giveaway a set of these Scripture Lullabies here on Raising Arrows.  I received a free set of CDs and was compensated for my time to write this post.  The opinions are most definitely my own.}

I had been looking for Scipture-based music to play at night for my little ones. Unfortunately, many of the Bible lullabies I have run across lean toward the corny side, with tinny voices and digitized music that sounds digitized.  I wanted music that offered Scripture in a beautiful and soothing way.  I wanted something peaceful that could be played all day long.  I wanted something that wasn’t just for children, but for the entire family.  {Little did I know just how important “Hidden in my Heart” Scripture Lullabies would become to me as a mom…read on…}

Scripture Lullabies volume I & II {review & giveaway from RaisingArrows.net}

Soothing Scripture Lullabies for Baby

I love to turn on these lullabies as I rock my babies.  I cannot help but think how the music is washing over them with the Word of God as they close their little eyes and relax from a hard day of play.

At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children
Matthew 11:25

Scripture Lullabies for baby & mama | RaisingArrows.net

Peaceful Scripture Music for Mommy

Sometimes my mind wanders at night.  I tend to struggle with fear as evening approaches. Losing a child has made me acutely aware of death and sickness and sometimes these thoughts nearly consume me.

One night recently, I felt these fears begin to creep back in.  I remembered I had downloaded the bonus tracks from the Scripture Lullabies website, so I laid down in bed and opened my laptop and turned the music on beside me.

If you lie down, you will not be afraid;
when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
Proverbs 3:24

The fears subsided and sweet rest overtook me.  Oh, how grateful I was to have this music.  Now, these Scripture Lullabies are the first thing I go to at night when I start to feel fearful.  I fall asleep listening to God’s Word.

Beautiful Scripture Music for the Entire Family

I want God’s Word to be a part of my every day life.  I want it to be the thread that holds my day together.  I want my family to be steeped in Scripture every waking moment.  Sometimes I’ll start our day with a Scripture Lullabies CD.  Sometimes I’ll put one on in the afternoon for Rest Time.  Sometimes we’ll end our day with it.

I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.
Psalm 119:11

In my book 10 Days to a Peaceful Home, I talk about our Family Worship Time every night.  We love to have music be a part of our evenings and the Hidden in My Heart CDs and MP3s are perfect for bringing the day to a close.

Fall asleep to Scripture Lullabies {review and giveaway from RaisingArrows.net}

Bless a new mom, a family of new believers, or your own family this Christmas season with the peace of God’s Word!  They will cherish this gift!

You can purchase these Scripture Lullabies through their website.  Use this coupon:

SLPROMO13
to receive 15% off
(expires 12/31/13)

The money from every 10th CD sold is donated to a pregnancy resource center!

Take a moment to listen to some of the tracks HERE or watch the video below for a taste of just how beautiful this music is.

And be sure and watch for the release of Volume III – Hidden in My Heart:  A Lullaby Journey Through the Life of Jesus COMING SOON!

Today, I am pleased to have the opportunity to give away a “Hidden in my Heart” CD or MP3 download to 2 readers!  If you win, you will get to choose which album you want and whether you want the CD or the download. (email readers CLICK HERE to enter the giveaway)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Selfish Side of Grief

The Selfish Side of Grief | RaisingArrows.net

It almost sounds heartless for me to say grieving people can often be selfish people.  In fact, we almost EXPECT grieving people to be selfish.  Something terrible has happened to them.  They should be allowed to walk around in their own little world, thinking only of their own grief and pain.  I even said in my post on How to Help Someone Who Grieves, that you need to let them grieve because all too often people on the outside just want the person experiencing the tragedy to get on with it.  A few weeks or months (or even days ) after a death, people on the outside forget and their lives go on as normal; whereas, those experiencing the tragedy have to find a new normal based on their new circumstances.

For instance, I had to relearn how to get up in the morning, how to cook for my family (now minus one child), how to care about anything other than my daughter’s death.  But, I never expected to have to learn how to not be selfish in my grief.

You see, when Emily died, I never wanted to want again.  I had lost my daughter and I had to go on living here on earth without her.  I felt deprived of her presence.  I felt I had lost enough.  I never wanted to feel any kind of deprivation again.  So, I started filling the void.

I bought fabric.  Every time I saw fabric on sale and it was even semi-cute or something I thought I might use one day, I bought it.

I went to thrift stores.  I brought home all sorts of things we didn’t need.  I nickel and dimed our family week after week.

I ate too much.  Any time I wanted to go out to eat, I begged my husband to take me.  I bought coffees, ordered appetizers, brought home more groceries than we could eat, and cooked and baked my way up the scale.

I know many people touched by tragedy who have eventually gone bankrupt.  I know people who have gained a tremendous amount of weight.  I know people who have hoarded their lives into oblivion because of grief.  All because the kind of self-control it takes to avoid this behavior feels too much like letting go of something you love.  But at the root of this is selfishness…a selfishness that will tear a house down to the ground…marriage, family, and all.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 has become my prayer for my life and my blog, especially any time I blog about grief.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4

But before I could get to this place, I had to learn to think outside myself.  I am still seeing nearly 6 years later, selfishness that stems from never wanting to want again.

As you walk through the murky waters of grief, you have to be willing to ask the hard questions.  You have to be willing to ask the Lord to reveal your own selfishness to you and help you through the process of rooting it out.  And as you root it out, you have to consciously think of others and how you can offer them the same grace, comfort and peace you have been offered.

All too often the selfishness we have to deal with as we grieve ends up directly affecting our marriages.  The walls we build to keep from feeling the want are walls that ultimately keep our husbands out as well.

I lost a dream.  I dreamed of a beautiful little girl with curly brown locks running after her siblings, sitting down to do school work at our table, walking down the aisle.  My husband lost the same little girl, the same dreams.  And even when our grief doesn’t look the same, I know he’s hurting too.  I don’t get to selfishly act as if I’m the only one grieving.  I don’t get to tear my house down or rip my marriage apart.  And being aware of this is half the battle.

Today, I’m posting at Yes, They’re All Ours on the topic of Marriage & Losing a Child.  It’s tough when a marriage is faced with something of this magnitude, but it isn’t impossible.  Cling to each other so that as you heal, you heal together…one wound, one scar, one flesh.

Please visit my Grieving Mother page for our story and more articles on grief and healing.

Ask Amy – Fear and the Healing Process After the Loss of a Child

healing after child lossIt seemed appropriate on the eve of the 5 year anniversary of our daughter’s Home-going that I should answer this particular question.

Two readers submitted questions that, while not entirely similar, were of the same topic…life after the loss of a child.

One reader had lost a child at 7 months (the same age our Emmy was) and wanted to know what we had done to heal from her loss.  The other reader lost a son due to complications of childbirth and was pregnant again and wondering how to deal with the fear she was feeling.

For me, the fear was one of the most ongoing things I needed to heal from.  In fact, it continues to be something I must give to the Lord over and over again.  Just this past week, I sat up late into the night praying through my fears as I held my newborn son.  I know I will never fully conquer this fear this side of Heaven, but I do know God is big enough to handle those fears and walk me through them.

The past 5 years have been wrought with ups and downs in the grieving process.  Here are a few of the things we have done to help us heal and gain victory over our fears.

*Write, write, write.  On my Grieving Mother page, I have a lot of links to articles I have written, many of them typed out through tears.  I grieved through my writing and I encourage every grieving mother to do the same.  It doesn’t have to be a public blog.  It can be a quiet journal tucked away by your bedside.  Mothers need a place to write their deepest thoughts and feelings without judgement.

*Cling to the Lord and each other.  I wrote Psalms for the Grieving Heart because I knew grieving families needed to cling to the Lord during their grief, but they more than likely couldn’t handle lengthy Bible studies and/or devotionals.  Music was very important in our healing as well.  Songs like Blessed Be Your Name and Be Unto Your Name brought us to tears, but helped us praise the Lord in the middle of it all.

We also grew as a family.  We never hesitated to speak of Emily.  Even our children who were not born when she passed away know of her and speak as if they remember her.  And Ty and I clung to each other.  We often found that when one of us was weak, the other was strong.

*Grieve how you need to grieve and say what you need to say, but do it in a safe place.  My husband and a select group of friends are my safe place.  I know I can say anything to them.  I know I can grieve and they will listen and hug me and pray for me.  Unfortunately, those who grieve often hear rather thoughtless words spoken to them that can cut like a knife.  Don’t open up to those kind of people.  Even if they do not mean to hurt you, it is best to only grieve openly with those who understand.

*Don’t do anything hastily, but do keep working through those difficult things.  It took me several weeks to take Emily’s clothes out of the closet and put them in a box.  It took me 2 years to finally go through them all and tidy them up.  There are still places we do not go and things we do not do.  We’re just not ready.

There came a time when we felt ready to go back to the city where Emily died.  It was hard.  We cried.  A lot.  But, we did it.  And sometimes I have been ready to take a step forward before my husband, but I have chosen to wait until he is ready.  We do this together even though we heal differently.  I have to respect his difficult things just as he has to respect the things that are more difficult for me.

*Focus on serving others.  Once the brunt of the storm is passed, it is so very important we begin to serve others with the same comfort and love we were shown.  I have sadly watched women cling to their grief as a security blanket, never letting go and reaching out to others.  It is okay to find joy.  It is okay to live again.  It is okay to heal.

I’m not going to lie to you and say that I never cry and I never miss Emily and I never feel like my heart is going to break in two.  When you’ve lost a child, there’s never an end to your grief.  But, I can attest to the fact that with the Lord’s infinite mercy, you can heal.  Ask Him to fight the fears for you.  Ask Him to steady your feet on this path.  Ask Him to show you what He wants for you.

And thank you, my dear readers. for allowing me to share my precious daughter with you.  It is my hope and prayer that her life and her death and how her daddy and I have walked through it all has glorified the Lord and encouraged others along the way.  She was such a blessing to us and we will never be the same because of her.

Daddy holds Emily for the first time after her first surgery in December 2007.

Daddy holds Emily for the first time after her first surgery in December 2007.